New York City isn’t exactly known for empty streets, plentiful garages, or spacious abodes. It’s seen as a hellish place to be a car owner, let alone a car enthusiast — a place where working on your own car is about as feasible as finding a reasonably-priced takeout option for lunch. That is, entirely impossible. Mike Edwards, however, thinks otherwise: His 1973 Dodge Challenger entered the garage of his Williamsburg apartment building as a bare-metal rolling shell and left it as a rumbling muscle car monster.
Edwards moved to Williamsburg in 2010, splitting an apartment above a two-car garage with a group of enthusiasts. Five years later, that garage came in handy when a Craigslist search led him to the rolling chassis of a 1973 Challenger. It had been a project under prior ownership but sat unfinished. $6,000 later, it sat in that Williamsburg garage.
Edwards did the car’s paint and bodywork at a friend’s shop in New Jersey, but the rest was done in-house — quite literally. The car’s 383 ci V8 engine, which predates the chassis by nearly a decade, was cleaned, honed, and rebuilt by hand in the apartment. Edwards even used his kitchen sink to wash out the heads.
Edwards also rebuilt a four-speed manual transmission for the car, as well as the rear differential. The Challenger’s original 1973 front end was traded for a ‘70 nose, a deal Edwards still can’t believe he found. Due to the constrained size of the garage, nearly all work was done with hand tools — even grinding metal had to be done sparingly.
Not every New York City automotive stereotype is true. Sure, it can be difficult to park, drive or fix a car within the city’s limits, but it’s not impossible — Edwards and his rebuilt Challenger are a testament to that. Now, if only he could help on the overpriced lunch takeout front.